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Advise from WWS and HKS students: why was I rejected twice?


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NOBODY can assume a WWS admission--the real perplexing issue isn't "why was I rejected?" The proper question is "why was I accepted?"

Yeah--as a current WWS student, I fully support this view. Lots of qualified applicants, lots of luck. Don't beat yourself up about it. Some large part of it is out of your control.

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  • 3 months later...

I'm sorry if I sounded entitled. I didn't mean to come off that way. If I had been accepted by either KSG or WWS, I would have thanked my lucky stars for such a miracle! I didn't apply thinking that I was going to be accepted but I just posted the first post because I wanted to learn from my application mistakes.

Yes, even my colleagues at IFC in Asia do not know about Fletcher. I work in an NGO in Beijing now and my colleagues don't know the schools outside the Ivies (plus Stanford, Duke, etc) too. To put it in another way, would an American ID professional know the top programs for international development in China or the UK except for the top 3?

A friend of mine told me that when she sorts through CVs, she screens out the CVs of students who went to schools she's never heard of. I think the practice is quite common in that particular (development) organization as they get hundreds of CVs for a job and they have to make the first cut quickly.

As for name recognition:

It varies from field to field. Employers in China who take JDs and MBAs will probably know more names than just the top 5, but for my field, the range of view is still quite limited. It also partly has to do with the fact that MPA degrees are a lot less common than MBA degrees especially in Asia.

I didn't explain earlier that the reason that I did not apply to Columbia and Georgetown is because they offer very little funding (this is based on my own observation and data collection only). When I quit Citibank to return to Manila, my salary dropped to $18,000. Even if you factor in the reduced cost of living, it was not enough money to pay off student loans, save for grad school, pay for living expenses and save for retirement. Columbia is a great name but I did not want to have to go back to banking just to pay off student loans. I want to study development and work in development. It was a simple decision.

The other reason why I don't want to just go to the first school with a famous name is because I want to get the most out of my two years of graduate education so that I come out better equipped for my field. The name is for the employers and for the job interviews but the knowledge and skills are for me and (hopefully) for our program beneficiaries.

I'm applying again this year as I didn't defer from any program so I need to restart the process. I just took the revised GRE and got a 161 (770) on Q and 163 (650) on V. The ability to return to previous questions helped a lot as I had a bad problem of running out of time on the Math sections of the previous GRE. (I tried to pace myself but I couldn't break out of it). It's strange how my verbal dipped down a lot. I think 650 is alright. It's not too low, correct?

I'm not applying to IR programs. I am applying to public affairs/policy programs focusing on international development. I want to specialize in private sector development/PPP (due to my background) and regional integration (i.e. the ASEAN-as a tool for development).

Actually, the Math training in the Philippines is nothing like the northeast asian countries. There is a huge gap and the Philippines is way behind. I was a B+ math student and I scored in the top 2% in the national high school exam because the general pool was overall weak. Compared to China, the emphasis on sciences and math in the Philippines is nonexistent.

A little bit of longer term perspective to wrap it all up

I once had a scary situation while were doing field work overseas. We were very worried that we put ourselves in a very dangerous situation by ***(I'm deleting the specifics for security reasons). Instead of just dropping the project like a hot potato as was suggested by my understandably jittery colleague, I found myself weighing the risks to myself and the benefits to the beneficiaries (should we properly understand this problem and find measures to stop it). Other people doing the same work had actually been attacked (either physically or the exterior of their office was damaged) but the risk, if contained, seemed warranted.

It reminded me of why I wanted to work in development in the first place. Sure, a great masters program will help me do a better job someday just as my undergraduate education really helps me with my current job but whether I get into a program I want to or not, wherever I graduate from, I'll still go back to doing what I like. That won't change no matter where I go.

So in conclusion, I will apply to MPA programs again this year. I'll give it my best shot and go to the school where it makes most sense to attend. Wherever it might be, I just hope that the caliber of specialized training they offer will be as good as the general education that Notre Dame gave me because I want to be much better in my work so that I can target beneficiaries more effectively (and not make the situation any worse!)

Edited by globalhopscotch
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I don't see what's wrong w/ working for Citibank for a year. You have tripple majors and one of your majors is finance. This's where you practiced in a real world. And I see there's nothing wrong working for IFC. It's like you're working for WB and besides, you deserve higher credits on taking less pay, being in the field and helping people get financed for their works, business, life and for the well-being of people there.

There are people who apply for ID, MPP, MPA and get accepted w/ business background too. Your work is finance & development.

My point is that all things were being considered equally or similarly, whom would you choose? Higher GRE-Q or lower GRE Q? You're from the Philippines, your verbal GRE is at the advantages of most Asian nationals, except Singapore, Indian and a few more countries.

The GPAs and grades from one school canNOT be compared to another school. Let's say if you go top 1 or top 2 Us in Asian countries and have lower GPAs b/c the conservative grading system used there. You get D in cal, flunk stat but your GRE is still up to their average ranges vs A, B+, A- on these subjects in an X university, and you get from 500-670. What do these tell the admission committees? It can be interpreted in few ways. I don't want to elaborate here.

Basically, grading is not as important. As far as I remember, HKS doesn't ask people to report undergraduate GPA if schools are OUTSIDE the US. So, how do they measure candidates? I really doubt WWS. On its catalogue/prospectus, it even clearly shows average GRE Q pie charts! You see the average and you must beat the average b/c you're using your Filipino background as a basis of your application i.e. SOP right?

I hope my best wishes may require you to attempt a bit more. There is a will, there is a way. Rome isn't built in one day.

I think your profile is awesome and what bothers me is your Q. Don't forget you spent 10-12 years in Asia, they compare you w/ thousands of Asian applicants too b/c math skills are acquired throughout years but practice will also help your strategies in solving them. But if you keep 500-670 sporadically.. Just do maybe 80 points more and I believe you can succeed b/c you seem young and this standardized test variances w/ your age. It can be kept for 5 years. Who knows one day you may need it for a Ph.d? Rather do it just in case.. Good luck. :) Salamat Pu

Well, I took the revised GRE recently. No PhD for me but I might do another masters degree. Salamat po

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